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Recital
GLITTERING PIANISM IN LI'S OAKMONT RECITAL
by Terry McNeill
Thursday, April 11, 2019
Piano prodigies have always been a fascination for the music public, and the greatest of them (some were Mozart, Mendelssohn, Liszt, Saint Saëns, Hofmann) went on to legendary fame. George Li, who made is local debut at a Music at Oakmont recital April 11, was a remarkable recent keyboard prodigy t...
Symphony
SO CO PHIL'S SEASON CLOSER WITH EXPANSIVE PROKOFIEV 5TH IN JACKSON
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, April 07, 2019
Closing their 20th season with their usual programming aplomb, the Sonoma County Philharmonic played a provocative set of concerts April 6 and 7 in the Jackson Theater, the Orchestra’s new home at the Sonoma Country Day School by the Sonoma County Airport. Local composer Nolan Gasser’s Sonoma Overt...
Choral and Vocal
SISTINE CHAPEL INSPIRATION FOR THE TALLIS SCHOLARS IN WEILL HALL
by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Friday, April 05, 2019
Returning to Weill Hall April 5 after a seven year absence, the ten singers of the Tallis Scholars brought the sacred choral tradition of Palestrina and his contemporaries to an audience of delighted music lovers. Under the direction of Peter Phillips, the 1973 founder of the group, the program was...
Symphony
AUTUMNAL SIBELIUS 7TH HIGHLIGHTS VSO'S SEASON CLOSING CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 31, 2019
Closing their 87th Season March 30 and 31 the Vallejo Symphony has moved from a single weekend concert to a set of two, and the late March response was two full houses in the charming downtown Vallejo Empress Theater. Conductor Marc Taddei opened the Sunday program with a rousing performance of B...
Recital
SHARED INSTRUMENTAL BEAUTY IN VIEAUX-MEYERS WEILL HALL CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Saturday, March 30, 2019
Exciting timbral sound and intricate counterpoint, made possible when two artists with complementary instruments play together, were richly explored by violinist Anne Akiko Meyers and guitarist Jason Vieaux March 30 in Weill Hall. Whether in close harmony, or unison, or weaving separate melodies to...
Chamber
RARE MAHLER QUARTET AT MILL VALLEY CHAMBER CONCERT
by Abby Wasserman
Sunday, March 24, 2019
Piano quartets are relatively rare in the classical literature, and there are only about 40 compositions for the combination of piano, violin, viola and cello, mostly from the Romantic period of the mid to late 1800s. It therefore was special March 24 to hear three great works of this medium, perfor...
Symphony
AMERICAN CLASSICS SPARKLE UNDER KAHANE’S BATON
by Steve Osborn
Saturday, March 16, 2019
Jeffrey Kahane, the Santa Rosa Symphony’s former conductor, returned to the Weill Hall podium on Saturday night, and the results were expectedly wonderful. The concert of American classics was by turns playful (Gershwin’s “An American in Paris”), emotional (Barber’s violin concerto) and triumphant (...
Chamber
FLORESTAN TRIO'S MENDELSSOHN AT SPRING LAKE VILLAGE CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Friday, March 08, 2019
Spring Lake Village’s monthly concerts usually clock in under an hour, but the March 8 Florestan Trio’s performance was more extended as so much good music was on tap for the 125 residents attending at Santa Rosa’s premiere retirement residence facility. Four short pieces made up the first half, be...
Chamber
TILDEN TRIO'S BOHEMIAN ENERGY AT DOMINICAN CONCERT
by Terry McNeill
Sunday, March 03, 2019
Hard on the heels of the Trio Navarro’s late February concert in Sonoma State’s Schroeder Hall, Northern California’s other premiere resident piano trio, the Tilden, played an equally convincing program March 3 in Dominican University’s Angelico Hall. Clearly each hall’s acoustics, stage pianos and...
Recital
24 SONGS IN A MENKE-THOMPSON RECITAL ODYSSEY
by Terry McNeill
Saturday, February 23, 2019
Sonoma County pop and country singing enjoys continued popularity but it rare to see a professional classical vocal concert announced. Diva Ruth Ann Swenson was once a local star, but she has long departed and not much virtuoso recital singing can be found in the North Bay. But the exception to th...
SYMPHONY REVIEW
Venice Baroque Orchestra / Saturday, October 27, 2018
Anna Fusek (recorder), Massimo Raccanelli Zaborra (cello) and Giampiero Zanocco (violin), soloists

Recorder Player Anna Fusek

VIVALDI FOR ALL SEASONS IN WEILL BAROQUE CONCERT

by Sonia Morse Tubridy
Saturday, October 27, 2018

The Venice Baroque Orchestra, a dozen superb musicians that include strings, harpsichord and recorder, played an uplifting concert Oct. 27 of mostly Vivaldi sinfonias and concertos. The Weill Hall audience of 600 had rapt attention throughout, and the playing was of the highest musical level. This renowned period instrument ensemble, elegantly clad in black and always standing, took a journey to early 18th century Venice through Vivaldi’s music.

The Sinfonia in G commenced the evening with a first a burst of energy, then lyrical lines juxtaposed with leaps and trills, clear unisons and phrases always subtly shaped and shaded. This joyous mood was followed by a plaintive movement, almost sad and resigned which in turn led to a jolly folk dance movement full of flourishes and surprising twists.

The next piece was one of the numerous Vivaldi concertos, this one a double concerto in d minor for violin (Gianpiero Zanocco) and recorder player Anna Fusek. Sections of allegro were followed by largos with many contrasting themes and echoes. The dissonances were exquisite as always in Vivaldi’s compositions. Pulsing basses phrases made sweeping statements, and the soloists interacted with great charm and at times the violin and recorder evoked a human voice and an angelic responding song. This composition was followed by wild applause. The E Minor Concerto for violin, strings and basso continuo started in a dark mood with a sighing half step motive moving into agitated tremolos and feats of virtuosic violin solo playing with occasional startling spiccato passages. The largo movement contrasted intimate and fragile moments with emphatic statements and the final allegro featured Mr. Zanocco’s dazzling solo violin playing, phrased with ease and humor.

Vivaldi’s music is full of his expected compositional techniques: imitations, echoes, tremolos, fast passages with contrasting calm sections, dramatic gestures, and at the same time intimate tenderness. The music is both predictable and spontaneous, easy to listen to and also startling and intriguing.

In the B Flat Violin-Cello Concerto (RV 547) gave off fireworks in the orchestra and arpeggios in profusion. The andante was pastoral and delicately sweet, featuring a chamber music size ensemble. Then off to a galloping hunt with exciting fast cello passages from Massimo Raccanelli becoming at times like the sound of fluttering bird wings.

The first half of the concert concluded with enthusiastic ovations from the audience, and following intermission the orchestra presented Sinfonia in C (RV 717) from the opera Il Giustino, and then the Concerto in A Minor for cello, played as a last minute substitution by Mr. Raccanelli. The ensemble was impeccable. The cellist alternated passages of dizzying speed with a lovely slow movement full of subtle rubatos and expressiveness, leading to the last movement using stark staccatos, buzzing effects and a unison pizzicato ending.

Corelli’s La Follia was the theme for Geminiani’s Concerto Grosso, in D Minor (H. 143). The many short variation movements had a rich textured sound, with much virtuoso playing and a delightful amount of humor.

These elements of humor and color reached a climax in the Concerto in D Major for recorder (“Il Gardellino” - The Goldfinch), RV 428. Often played by a flute, Ms. Fusek created pure magic on her instrument as she trilled and warbled, chirped and soared, interacting with her colleagues and the audience in an unforgettable performance. The audience gave a standing ovation, gratefully acknowledging this exceptional concert.

Two encores were offered. The first was an arrangement of Gershwin’s Rhasody in Blue with featuring Ms. Fusek, and it was a humorous escapade. The entire ensemble returned with the presto “Summer” from Vivaldi’s Four Seasons. The many tremolos were played with precision and beauty.

Nicki Bell contributed to this review